Delaney Mes contemplates life with a sister who is a Silver Fern.

Telling people I'm one of three girls is often met with something along the lines of: "Oh, your poor Dad", which I always find myself politely correcting. He, in fact, tells us he didn't want sons. He wanted enough girls for a whole netball team. He got three and although it wasn't a team, it seems Bailey, the baby of the family, is good enough at netball for the three of us combined.

Bailey, 26, has just finished her first World Cup campaign with the Silver Ferns and, although they heartbreakingly walked away with a silver medal after a three-goal loss to a relentless Australian team in the final, they instilled in the country a belief they could do it. They silenced, even if momentarily, the naysayers and had an amazing run.

We've both had slightly unorthodox career paths but in different directions. While Bailey is eating poached eggs and avocado before a netball game, I'm researching where to find the best doughnuts in Auckland.

Our older sister, Chelsea, 33, Bailey and I went to Onehunga High School, in Auckland.


We grew up in a house our great-grandparents built and our parents still live there. Chelsea was head girl and played Auckland rep cricket as well as soccer. She didn't get into netball until she was living in London and playing serious social netball over there.
She's now a financial journalist who lives in Sydney with her husband and baby, Sage.

When I phone Bailey for an interview - we talk a couple of times a week anyway - she tells me she didn't consider netball as a career option until her final year at high school.
She played in the Auckland under-19 rep team and after nationals was named in the tournament team. It was around this time she decided to do a gap year in Canada. The idea behind that, she tells me, was to take a break, travel, think about what to study and get out of her comfort zone.

Both of us older sisters had done a gap year to the UK and loved it but her coach and mentor, Corlie Wolmarans, her dean at school and a former South African netball player, had other ideas. "Corlie took me aside and basically told me not to go."

Bailey studied for a Bachelor of Health Science and continued with netball, signing with the Northern Mystics in the ANZ Championships a couple of years later.

After joining the Mystics, Bailey spent a lot of time on the bench. When she finally started getting good game-time and performing well she suffered a devastating knee injury.

We watched as she applied ninja-like devotion to her recovery and when she was picked for the World Cup Silver Ferns team after moving to Christchurch this year to play for the Canterbury Tactix, it finally felt like it was all coming together.

As a family we're obviously extremely proud, and we watch all the games like crazed fans, but it can be hard. Commentators can be cruel, as can fans and Dad especially takes the missed goals like a physical blow.

I ask her if she's proud of herself. "The biggest satisfaction for me comes from thinking of the last four-five years as a whole - the setbacks, the position changes, the negative attention.


"But the highlights are definitely thinking about my first Ferns trial and now the Netball World Cup. Despite it being devastating [losing the final] it's really exciting for the future."
Because Bailey is so much younger than me, we agree we aren't really competitive. We're just all proud of our baby. We joke about Mum and Dad having a shrine to her on the fridge - newspaper cut-outs and photos galore.

By the time Bailey finished school, I was living in Wellington and Chelsea in Sydney, but being in regular contact has ultimately made us closer.

The unconditional sisterly support has always been there, but probably was ramped up a notch when Bailey's netball career did and when I took the leap into food from law.

I had always loved food, and worked in cafes from about 16. I would constantly pester the chefs. I loved writing, too, but never thought much about either of them as a career. I wanted to be an actress until about 17 and after my gap year in England decided to study law and English literature. I wanted to be challenged at university and that was definitely the case.

I began my first food blog, Heartbreak Pie, about six months into my graduate law job. I was living in Wellington and enjoying my job investigating alleged privacy breaches and settling and mediating complaints, but when my boyfriend and I broke up and lots of friends had already moved overseas for work, I was in a rut.

The blog offered me a creative outlet to cook and to write and the writing was surprisingly cathartic in the heartbreak process.

I took the leap from law to food after I moved to Auckland. I'd transferred jobs and intended to be home for a couple of months and then head overseas. I soon realised there was a whole exciting food scene to discover and I started to think there could be something in this as a career, if I stuck around.

Slowly but surely all the "food stuff" I was doing in my spare time grew. I was blogging regularly, cooking on the Good Morning show every few weeks, playing around with supper club/pop-up dinner type events, and then began a column with Metro magazine.

My team leader at work told me that, from the position of mortgages and children, now was the time to take the leap.

Most people I talked to were encouraging, albeit surprised, and many said how brave I was. It didn't feel particularly brave - once I'd made that decision, it was exciting and liberating. I had family support, and I knew I could always go back to law.

A massive dose of enthusiasm, a couple of freelance gigs and a part-time job with my cousin were enough to have me quit law for food. Despite it being a financial roller coaster, so far, it has paid off.

Back to the interview. I ask Bailey about her match-day eating. It's always oats for breakfast - she enjoys cooking and loves food but is definitely not as comfortable in the kitchen. She admits to being a porridge aficionado, though. It will be poached eggs and avocado on grain toast for lunch and a smoothie before the game.

Her post-match ritual has been fine-tuned to a big bottle of sparkling water and Whittaker's coconut chocolate.

I ask about her favourite childhood memories. We had great summer holidays camping at the beach with family friends and Christmases were always fun - I remind her of the time Mum and Dad gave her a guitar and she cried - both my sisters are great at guitar.

We reminisce about Mum's legendary Sunday night vegetable soup with barley and bacon bones, just like Grandma's, and excitedly talk about our future careers.

Anything's possible but in the meantime we'll get competitive over who is the best aunty to our baby niece and plot trips to Sydney.

She'll beat me on a netball court and I'll cook a better dinner, but that competition is anyone's game.